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Knowing the Different Types of Diabetes Treatment Drugs

When people hear the diagnoses of diabetes, they tend to assume that insulin injections are the only course of treatment available to them. With Type 2 diabetes this is not the case, and there are many different diabetes treatment drugs that your doctor may recommend you try before you resort to taking insulin. Here are a few of the diabetes treatment drugs available today, along with their possible side effects.

A few of the diabetes treatment drugs available today

Sulphonylureas such as chlorpropamide, glibenclamide and glimepiride, are one form of diabetes treatment. They are taken in tablet form once or twice a day, to stimulate natural insulin production in the body. They have a number of side effects, including nausea, weight gain, and an upset stomach, and occasionally a lumpy red skin rash. Sulphonylureas work over a long period of time and can make the blood sugar drop too low, causing hypoglycaemia. For this reason they are rarely prescribed for elderly diabetics.

Biguanide, otherwise known as metformin, is a diabetes treatment drug taken two to three times daily. It prevents the liver from producing new glucose, and also assists insulin in carrying glucose to the body’s cells. The side effects of this treatment are mild, and include an upset stomach, nausea or diarrhoea. Side effects decrease over time, and can be limited by taking biguanide tablets with food.

Thiazolidinediones are a relatively new diabetes type 2 treatment drug, that comes in two distinct forms, rosiglitazone and pioglitazone. This drug is designed to overcome insulin resistance in the body, enabling type 2 diabetics to use their  naturally produced insulin more effectively. Side effects of this diabetes treatment include weight gain, fluid retention and headaches. It can also lead to upper respiratory track infections in rare cases.

Prandial glucose regulators need to be taken three times daily to stimulate insulin production in the pancreas. They act quickly over a short time period, reducing the risk of a hypo, and so should be taken at the same time as a meal is eaten. The various types of prandial glucose regulators, including repaglinide and nateglinide, can cause an upset stomach, nausea and skin rashes. Weight gain can also be a side effect, but this can often be controlled by prescribing a flexible dose.

An alpha glucose inhibitor, such as acarbose, is a diabetes treatment that can be taken three times a day. It slows down the rate at which starchy food is absorbed into the blood stream from the intestine, meaning that blood sugar levels rise more slowly after a meal. Your doctor is likely to prescribe a reduced dose of one tablet a day at first, because this will cut down on the side effects such as bloating, wind and diarrhoea.

DPP-4 inhibitors are a type of diabetes treatment that increases levels of the incretin hormone, which occurs naturally in the body. This hormone is produced when we eat and helps us to produce the required amount of insulin, whilst limiting glucose production in the liver. DPP-4 inhibitors can be taken along with other tablets such as thiazolidinediones, but not with insulin. The side effects of these diabetes treatment drugs depend largely on what you are taking them with, but they have a small risk of causing hypoglycaemia.

At some point most type 2 diabetics will find that they do need to switch to insulin to treat their condition. This is often because after many years of diabetes treatment drugs the pancreas is no longer able to produce sufficient insulin. Although the idea of insulin injections can be terrifying to some people, the needles used are actually quite small as the injection occurs just under the skin. Insulin is injected into the stomach, buttocks or thighs, and the injection sites are varied to reduce insulin build up. For those that can’t face injections, the switch form diabetes treatment drugs to insulin can be eased by the use of an inhaler or insulin pump

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